Next June, Anne Poschmann, P.Eng. will become the first female chair of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada. She was chair of Consulting Engineers of Ontario in 2005, and as a principal of Golder Associates in...
Next June, Anne Poschmann, P.Eng. will become the first female chair of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada. She was chair of Consulting Engineers of Ontario in 2005, and as a principal of Golder Associates in Mississauga, Ontario, she is also one of the few women to attain a top position in a Canadian consulting engineering company.
Q. Tell us about your early career.
I graduated from Queen’s University in 1978 in what they called geological engineering. Then I spent the next three years “playing” with a pottery clay mine out in Nova Scotia. My father, when he came to Canada, started up a business called “Pottery Supply House.” It was a business that supplied clays and glazes and wheels, and everything to do with making pottery to Canada, and the U.S. as well. His dream was always to have a source of clay that was his own and he found a deposit in Nova Scotia. I was just graduating so it made sense for me to go out and do the testing that was required. So my first boreholes were drilled on this clay deposit in the Musquodoboit Valley, northeast of Halifax.
We were having trouble getting grants that we needed in order to turn the clay deposit into a functioning mine, so after three years I decided I needed to find a job and I put in an application to Golder Associates.
Q. What made you go into geotechnical work?
I have two older brothers, two younger brothers, and a younger sister. My two older brothers always told me as I was growing up, “If you’re going to university, you must go into engineering.” I guess I listened to them — and I did like math.
Q. Were there very few women in geological engineering at the time?
It was a small class, and the benefit of the program was that you took a lot of courses with the sciences stream in geology. So there was a relatively large percentage of females in the class, even though they weren’t going through the engineering side of things.
Q. Are you a member of any associations for female engineers?
No, not directly, although I am now on the board of the Women in Transportation Seminar Toronto chapter. And I have continuously given to the memorial after the Montreal Massacre. That was a hard event — a shock.
But I have to admit that I’ve never really been one for promoting women in engineering events, although I do feel those organizations are needed. My plate was full and I thought that as long as I participated and could show accomplishments in other organizations like Consulting Engineers of Ontario and ACEC-Canada, then other women can see that you can do well in the industry.
Q. How has your role at Golder Associates evolved?
It’s amazing, but as of September I have been 32 years with Golder. I have been in varying roles over the years. Recently I was on the board of the Canadian company and I have been transportation sector leader in Canada. But looking back, it was seven-and-a-half years after I joined Golder that I became an associate — which is very fast. And it was only five years later, in 1994, when I became a principal. It’s amazing to think that as a young person like that I was on a committee searching for a new president for our global operations. I think back and I think, “How on earth did I get myself on that?” cce